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Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - A retrospective look at the year which changed my life

I sit here writing this blog reminiscing over the previous 12 months.

One year ago today, if you'd asked me what 2012 would mean for me. I would have responded that the Olympics would be a big deal and I would get one year older. That was the scale of my sedentary lifestyle.

Who knew how much my life would change following a decision I made on the 26th January?

It was on this fateful day that I decided to give up smoking. It was also on this day that I thought that I could complete an Olympic distance triathlon.

So here I sit looking back at all I have achieved and 2012 looked like this for me.

  • Distance travelled under my own steam - 703 miles
  • Distance Swum - 26 miles
  • Distance Cycled - 511 miles
  • Distance Run - 166 miles
  • Number of workouts - 141
  • Calories burnt - 78679 kcal
  • Time spent training - 86 hours and 9 minutes
  • Times this blog has been read - 11305

This is astounding in itself but if we break things down further the scale of improvement is massive

Comparison between 2011 and 2012
As well as this I have completed a sprint and an olympic distance triathlon and in the process raised £1025 for Cancer Research. 

Not bad for a years work but if we consider what I have planned for 2013, there's a long way to go.

2013 will mean for me
  • Completing 5 triathlons ranging in distance from sprint to ironman on my own.
  • Completing an olympic triathlon as part of a relay.
  • Swimming a minimum of 210km as someone on Twitter challenged me. This is equal to swimming the channel six times.
  • Training as a BTF level 1 coach
  • Assisting in the running of a new triathlon club in Sheffield.
  • Raising as much money as I can for Help Harry Help Others
  • Beginning to enjoy running
  • Training everyday in January as I have signed up for the Poppyfields January Challenge.
01/01/13 edit

It seems that I have signed up to several challenges for 2013 through the wonderful medium of Twitter

I have signed up to

  • #DryAthlon and aim to become a #DryAthlete by not drinking for a minimum of one month. This should help with my planned weight loss.
  • #ChannelChallenge which involves swimming the English Channel as many times as possible in 2013. Obviously I will not be swimming the English Channel for real but will be completing the 35km as many times as possible in 2013 by swimming in pools and outside and logging the distances completed.
  • #12runsofchristmas this involves running everyday for 12 days from the 26th December. I am currently on day 7 and will be going for a run later. This challenge has seen me set new personal bests for 1km, 1 mile and 2.5km and there is still another 6 days of running to go.
  • #PoppyfieldsJanuaryChallenge involves me exercising every day throughout January and if I miss any days I have to pay a fine to charity of £1. For more information on this challenge please check out the blog here. http://www.shortfatbaldsid.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/poppyfields-january-challenge.html?m=1
  • #FitTeam13. This is not a challenge but more of a Twitter movement set up by Stuart Amory who is a personal trainer to celebrities like Jake Humphrey. Every month he posts a video on YouTube which his followers aim to complete. The hashtag #FitTeam13 connects like minded people on Twitter and has put in touch with some wonderful people. For more information on this please check out Stuart's blog. http://stuartamorypt.com/2012/12/28/what-was-fitteam12-and-what-is-fitteam13/
If you're feeling particularly generous and would like to donate to my quest, you can do so at www.justgiving.com/triathlon4harry 

Thanks everyone for reading and continuing to support me in my quest.

Michael



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Training bits and bobs

Well my blog post last week was received very well. I can't believe the support my honesty got. If you missed it you can read it here.

http://smoker2triathlete.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-hardest-thing-i-have-ever-written.html

I am a little shocked that I haven't blogged since the 5th November about my training. It's been going okay apart from the fact that my knee is a little painful today although that could be as a result of 8 training sessions in 8 days.

I've been steadily improving in my swimming and my running. And finally I don't have an excuse not to go out on my bike during the winter.

Swimming

Since the 5th November I have been swimming a total of 5 times and have accumulated over 4 miles in the pool. I really do find that swimming helps me forget the stresses of work. I've been concentrating on both technique and speed this month. I've also set myself a target of being able to complete 1500m non stop in the pool in a time of 00:27:30. My best time to date has been 00:29:30 so I have some work to do but I think it will be achievable.

One of my Twitfriends commented on how well my swimming has been going and as a result I am now signed up to the Leeds Triathlon as part of a relay. I will be completing the swimming leg with @thebaldygit completing the bike leg and  @nicolaclarefox completing the run. We have named the relay team "The Twitter Trio" as we have all met on Twitter and not in real life.

Cycling

My cycling workouts since my last post have totalled 38.55 miles split over two workouts. I've been struggling to find the time to train at weekends as I have been busy. The other reason behind my lack of training has been my nervousness over crashing on my Trek Madone during winter.

I formulated a plan for this with the help of my friends and family. I debated getting a second bike using the Governments Bike to Work Scheme but decided against this. I debated buying a second cheaper bike but in the end I decided to take my 1996 GT Tempest mountain bike to a local bike shop to see how much it would cost to repair and turn into a winter training bike. This was the cheapest option and I really don't know why I didn't do this sooner. I picked my refurbed bike up today and took it out on two rides. It's definitely not as quick as my road bike but at least if I crash, it should be cheaper to repair.

My refurbed training bike
This month has also seen me purchase my race wheels for 2013. I decided on some Planet X 60mm carbon clinchers and I can't wait to try them out in Mallorca in March.

My new wheels
The turbo chamber has also been outfitted with a telly to make my sessions less tedious, this training in winter lark is a lot different to training during summer.

The latest addition to the Turbo "Torture" Chamber
Running

This month I've mostly been concentrating on increasing my run distance in weekly increments with the aim being to be able to complete most of my runs without walking next season. This has been going very well until yesterday when I seem to have tweaked something in my right knee. Yesterday was my first trail run since I was 14 and (apart form the pain today) I really enjoyed it which was a shock in itself.

My muddy trainers
My Newton trainers have been a really good purchase and I'm really glad the ran the BOGOF offer. Two pairs for £120. They really suit my forefoot strike. I think I prefer the Sir Isaac to the Terra Momentus but this is probably due to the fact I ave worn them more.

In total since the 5th November I have run 11.37 miles and set a new PB for 1km. 5 minutes and 33 seconds. Who knows maybe there is a runner hidden in me somewhere. I'm not gonna lie I was knackered after this but at least I set a new PB.

The other interesting thing I have learnt about my running this month is I appear to not be using my glutes when running. I think this is the case as I am getting a lot of pain in my quads when running. I need to remedy this as my legs are beginning to look like Robert Forstemann's. They are bordering on ridiculous. I would put a pic up but instead you'll have to make do with the aforementioned sprint cyclists.


I resorted to Twitter and think I have a plan to make my glutes start firing but if this doesn't work I am sure the wonders of Google can come to the rescue.

Other bits and bobs

Centurions Triathlon has moved on in the last month or so. I met with the bloke who's brainchild it is and should be attending my first training session this week (knee pain depending). I've been given a Centurions Triathlon hoodie as thanks for my help in getting things moving. The trisuit design has been finalised by Quest Sportswear and it largely replicates my initial design and is looking really good.

Centurions Triathlon trisuit
Also this month I have ordered a mug to provide motivation with regards to the London Triathlon next year. I am still annoyed I missed my target by 2 minutes and 57 seconds.

My daily motivation and reminder
Just so you all know I finally managed to beat my sponsorship target for Cancer Research. In total I raised £1025. Thank you all for your support.

November in numbers

Training sessions - 15
Training days - 15
Non training days - 15
Swimming miles - 4.06
Cycling miles - 47.48
Running miles - 12.57
Average speed - 7.63 mph
Total calories burnt - 5173

Remember you can sponsor me for next season by clicking on this link. It is for a great cause (Help Harry Help Others) and your sponsorship could make a huge difference to someone.

Thats all from me folks. Thanks for reading.

Michael (30 days without a cigarette and going strong)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The hardest thing I have ever written.....

I've been debating long and hard over this blog post but I feel it only fair to share what's been going on in the past few months.

As you are all no doubt aware I have managed to get a new job at home, which is amazing as I only applied for the one job.

This job meant so much to me as it would allow me to live back at home and actually get to spend time with my friends and most importantly my wife. Living in hotels for a period of 51 weeks was really not for me especially when it was meant to only be for a period of 10 weeks.

I met some fantastic people who I would not have met had I not been in the hotel in London, most notably all the RG Active people who I consider friends.

Anyway back to the point. Due to how much this job meant to me, I had managed to heap an inordinate amount of pressure on myself prior to my second interview.

This job would end my hotel boredom and allow me more stability for training. Like I said pressure.

During a stupid moment of weakness on my way to my second interview I managed to undo over 150 days hard work and succumbed to a craving for a cigarette as I thought it would help me cope with my nerves.

To this day I have no idea why I did this and hated myself for doing it but I was once again feeding the nicotine monster and before I knew it I had started my descent down the slippery slope. At first I was buying a pack a day and smoking one cigarette and throwing the rest in the bin. After a night drinking in London with my work colleagues I took another step down the slippery slope and smoked more than usual and was then a smoker again.

It really is a slippery slope and I hated what I was doing to myself as I hadn't struggled to give up. I'd just had a moment of weakness and was now paying the price.

I had also become what Allen Carr refers to as a secret smoker as I hadn't told anyone I was smoking. When I was at home I would formulate excuses to go out to allow me time to feed the little monster. I was lying to my friends and family. I felt stupid but here I was again a smoker.

It wasn't long before I developed a cough and I even lied to my wife when she asked me about my cough and if I had been smoking. I denied all knowledge. What an idiot I was being.

Things all came to a head when me and Nicola went to went to the Help Harry Help Others ball in Birmingham on the 19th October. I had relied on Twitter to get the tickets but due to some complications, the person who I was getting the tickets off couldn't make it. She was meant to be travelling from Germany but didn't and I had no way of contacting other members in her party. I worked myself into a right bundle of stress and fed the monster due to extra complications with a receptionist at the hotel I had gone to, to collect the tickets. Anyway relief ensued and I finally managed to get the tickets. I happily made my way back to the hotel where Nicola was getting ready and as soon as I walked in to give her a hug, she said I smelt of smoke. This was it, that one moment where I could have lied again but I had to come clean, this is my wife I couldn't lie again so I was honest and confessed all. I admitted to being a smoker again. I cried and felt stupid but I also felt a huge weight had been lifted off me. Between us we formulated a plan for me to start taking Champix again and to recommence the journey to being a non smoker again (she was amazingly supportive, which was not what I was expecting). I have now been a non smoker since Friday 2nd November and am taking each day as it comes. I've been an idiot and undone so much hard work.

To all the people who have called me inspirational and followed me on this journey, I'm sorry. I've been an idiot.

My faux pas shows that no matter your level of motivation is for not smoking, it can all be undone in a moment of weakness. I have learnt so much about the idiosyncrasies of the nicotine trap and believe me from experience it is a trap and you can only break free with the right support. My wife will always support me through everything and for that I am eternally grateful.

If you are annoyed with me for failing in my journey, I am sorry. If you have stopped smoking because you were inspired by me, I am also sorry but stay strong and don't start smoking again. Use the support of friends and family when life gets tough and don't make the same mistake that I did.

Hope you all stay with me on this journey,

Unlike a certain well known cyclist, at least I have had the courage to admit my failings in a bare all confession. Lol.

Sorry.

Michael

Monday, 5 November 2012

I love it when a plan comes together

Firstly apologies for not blogging, I've been ill. I had a stinking cold, which resulted in no training and has been irritating.

I'm settling back into living at home and my new job and I even think my wife is enjoying having me back despite my "hamster-like qualities". Apparently I have a habit of creating nests out of clothes AKA being too lazy to hang my clothes up. OOOPS.

2013 will be a good year

As discussed previously I have been formulating a plan for my triathlons in 2013 and things are nearly finalised.

So far I have signed up for
  • Clitheroe triathlon in erm... Clitheroe on the 14th April 2013, this is a 3/4 olympic distance triathlon in my home town and I am looking forward to me family being there to support me.
  • Ironman 70.3 in Mallorca on the 12th May 2013. I am hoping the heat isn't to prohibitive but I have managed ot fir this in with a holiday as well. This will be my first foray into a half ironman distance triathlon
  • Potentially the Rother Valley Sprint in Sheffield on the 9th June 2013.
  • The Outlaw in Nottingham on the 7th July 2013, the big one and my first full distance triathlon. I really hope my legs are up to the 26.2 mile run after completing the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride.
  • The London triathlon on July 27th in London. I am completing this as I have unfinished business with this triathlon after this year.
Al these triathlons are for Harry Moseley and his charity Help Harry Help Others. I hope my stubbornness sees me complete all the triathlons and raise lots of money for the charity.


The HHHO trisuit
 I was lucky to go the inaugural charity ball for HHHO and had a fantastic time with my wife.


I have also contacted Compressport about doing me some custom calf guards to compliment my trisuit design and they have said this could be a possibility. I hope they can sort these out.

Triathlon is again proving an expensive hobby. Recently I have bought some new trainers as Newton Running had a BOGOF offer on, which equated to two pairs for £120.

I also think I will need a new wetsuit for next season given I am dieting at the moment.

I have to find some way of making the running easier on my knees.

I have also managed to devise a wish list of things to buy. So far for next season that consists of
  • Louis Garneau Vorticce helmet
  • Planet X 60mm Carbon Clincher wheel set
  • Xlab Carbon Wing
  • Huub Aerious wetsuit
Since my last blog I have finally joined a gym. I have decided to grace Nuffield Health in Doncaster with my presence. I will mostly be doing my swimming training there but I may be tempted to spin at some point.

Swimming

Before my cold, I managed to set a new PB in the pool by completing 1500m in sub 30 by completing it in 29:47. This was on day two of joining the gym and on day one I only just missed out on the sub 30 by completing the distance in 30:59. I haven't swum in two weeks since I contracted the evil lurgy.

Cycling

After finally changing from my racing tyres to my normal tyres, I have put some time on the turbo trainer. On Saturday I completed an easy hour and cycled 35km. I was quite happy with this and was glad to get some time in the saddle. I should have ridden outside but I was a little pushed for time as I had to complete my Christmas shopping. Aren't I organised?

Running

Since my last blog I have completed three runs. Two before my cold and one since. The first two were to break in my new Newton Gravity trainers but they rubbed some of my toes. These shoes were bought for racing but I am not happy about the rubbing. I will have to investigate. 

I then bought a pair of Newton Sir Isaac and Newton Terra Momentus in their BOGOF offer and the Sir Isaac are very comfy. I can't wait to get some more miles in them. The Terra Momentus were bought with the aim of completing some trail runs over the winter months.

My new trainers
Run 1 was just over 2km, run 2 was just over 4km and run 3 was just under 2km. I plan on slowly building my distances up over the winter months and will try and stick to the training plan I have been set by Karen.

As previously discussed I was trying to find a triathlon club, I am now proud to say I will be joining a new club based in Sheffield. The name of the club is Centurions Triathlon. I was invited by the founder to design their trisuit and I think I came up with a cracking design.

Centurions Triathlon trisuit
The design has been sent to Quest Sportwear and I am sure they won't disappoint with the finalisation. I can't wait to see the pimped up design.

It has even been rumoured that I could help with coaching the new club. Honestly me a triathlon coach. Who'd have thought that would happen?

If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my Justgiving page.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I will be back to blogging regularly now I am over the lurgy.

Michael

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The next chapter

Objective one has been completed. I completed my initial challenge by completing the London Triathlon on 23rd September in a time of 03:32:57 missing my target time by 00:02:57 but given the hellish weather I think I did bloody well. At the time of writing I've raised £975 for Cancer Research UK. Thank you to all who sponsored me. In my darkest moments during the triathlon, the fact it was for charity kept me going.



A blow by blow account of the triathlon can be seen here.
http://smoker2triathlete.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/and-on-seventh-day-god-created-rain.html

Now I need to set myself some new targets for the coming months as it seems a shame to stop this journey which I enjoy and whihc has allowed me to meet some amazing people (both in person and on Twitter)

I have debated long and hard over what to do next year and to be honest I only have a rough idea on what I would like to complete in 2013 but logistical and financial implications may impede this.

My plan consists of completing a triathlon at each of these distances in 2013.

  • Super Sprint - venue TBC but possibly the Jenson Button Trust Triathlon at Luton Hoo Hotel - date tbc or possible Blenheim Triathlon due to its wonderful surroundings.
  • Sprint - Hatfield Triathlon (this was my first triathlon and I want to smash my PB) - date tbc
  • 3/4 Olympic - Clitheroe Triathlon (it seems a shame not to race a triathlon in my home town) - 14th April 2013
  • Olympic - London Triathlon (I feel I have unfinished business with this event given the hellish weather this year) 14th July 2013 (this may be too soon after Outlaw in which case I will need another race)
  • Ironman 70.3 - Mallorca hopefully depending on finances 11th May 2013
  • Ironman - Outlaw 7th July 2013
All these triathlons are again for charity. The charity I have chosen to represent is Help Harry Help Others, this charity was founded by 11 year old Harry Moseley who lost his battle with brain cancer on October 8th 2011.

Harry is in a word inspiring. If you doubt my claim, please read the following book which is available electronically and in paperback. I literally could not put it down

The book had me laughing and crying at numerous points.


The reason I have chosen to represent HHHO is because of Twitter, I saw a plea from Georgie Moseley (Harry's mum) and decided to respond as detailed below.

My exchange with Georgie Moseley

Harry was amazing for someone so young, he raised over £650000 at the time of his passing for Cancer Research UK and Georgie has just launched HHHO as a charity in its own right and I for one am honoured to represent this charity and to keep his dream alive.

I have (with the help of Quest Sportswear) designed a trisuit for next year and now need some more people to complete triathlons for HHHO and buy the trisuit to enable me to buy them. It would be a shame if I didn't get to complete my triathlons in this suit as I think the design is amazing.

HHHO trisuit design
Several people on Twitter have since contacted me about designing trisuits for their charity endeavours and I have now designed a trisuit for someone who is competing for Sands. I am honoured that people like what I can design. It means a lot.

Trisuit design for Sands

The reason this blog post is entitled next chapter is twofold.

Firstly I completed my quest and need some new challenges as detailed above.

Secondly I have managed to secure a new job back at home with a different company than the one I have worked for since leaving University in 2002. This job enables me to live back at home with my wife rather than staying in a hotel 4/5 nights a week. This is a good thing as living in a hotel can be hard work.

The move back home should also have a massive effect on my training as I will be able to spend a lot more time training on my bike. It will provide a more stable base for training.

I now need to find a gym in Doncaster to train and swim and I also need to find a new triathlon club to train with.

I am really going to miss training with RG Active as all the people there made me feel so welcome.

I owe special thanks to the following people.

  • Anne for encouraging me to train with RG Active in the first instance and being a wonderful lane buddy at the Hamptoon Pool swim sessions.
  • John for being a wonderful coach and helping me get over my open water swimming worries.
  • Kibs for teaching me less is more when it comes to swimming and being there at the end of lap one of the run at the London Triathlon to cheer me on.
  • Simon B for encouraging me in my quest.
  • Laura and Karen for making me feel welcome
  • Karen for helping me find my running mojo finally.
  • Chloe for making my wonderful thank you cakes (which I bought for the team for all their help)

All these people are well worth a follow on Twitter and I owe them my eternal thanks.

My thanks cakes. They were so tasty. Cheers Chloe
But now I find myself in a quandary as I am currently teamless which means I only have myself for motivation.

There are a lot of teams within 30 minutes of my home but I am yet to choose one to join.

The choice consists of Team Manvers, Wakefield Tri, Leeds Bradford Tri, Sheffield Tri, Adwick Tri and TNT Racing but none of these appear to offer the same outlook to training as RG Active.

They almost seem elitist which is understandable as triathlon is a sport but my mantra from day one has been completing and not competing so I am after something which is more based on fun rather than shaving minutes off my efforts.

One of my Twitter followers who is based in Sheffield is currently in the process of trying to set up a new triathlon team which should share my ethos of completing over competing and if this comes off I hope to join them.

I am looking forward to being at home and the new access this will allow me to training.

So this year will culminate in me completing an iron distance triathlon and spending a lot of time at home and I can't wait. 

Since I completed London my training hasn't gone too well due to work commitments and my damned shin splints. I have only managed to go on one bike ride and for one swim. The swim was excruciating as I kept getting cramp in the arches of my feet, I suppose this was down to a lack of training.

If you would like to sponsor me I have set up a new Justgiving page for HHHO.


Thanks for reading and I hope my next blogpost will be more focussed on training.

Michael

Monday, 24 September 2012

And on the seventh day. God created rain

At the outset of this journey it was my aim to complete the London Triathlon. Well this week was race week and I just want to know where the time went?

My preparation during the week for the event did not go very well.

I went for a run on Tuesday night but felt like I had a really tight calf so I cut short my run as I didn't want to injure myself.

I didn't go swimming on Wednesday either as my trisuit burn from last Thursday still wasn't better and I did not want to aggrevate my neck before the event on Sunday.

But enough of the claptrap.

The real reason you're here is to read about the main event, the big one, the goal for this year and the reason I started this quest.

The Virgin Active London Triathlon

The Saturday was spent spending a small fortune at the London Triathlon Expo. I got up and shaved my legs so that I could get some Kinesiology Tape applied to my various injuries in advance of the Triathlon on Sunday.

My legs pre taping
My legs post taping
The Osteopath supplied by Rocktape did a superb job taping me up and up until I jumped in the water on Sunday my tape stayed in place but more on that in a minute. I wish I had used the H2O version so it stayed in place in the water.

I am also now the owner of some Newton Gravity trainers and I can't wait to try these out when I recover from my niggles and the exertions of yesterday.

My new trainers

I also found a wonderful invention and purchased these as well. A headphone which doesn't go in your ear but still allows you to listen to music by conductive bone technology. I'll be able to wear these on my bike and still hear the traffic. Amazing.

See I told you I spent a fortune.

On Sunday I woke up and the rain that was forecast didn't appear to have materialised.

Forecast from Thursday
Forecast from Sunday morning
I woke up at 05:22 which had the race times been normal would not have been a problem but given my start wasn't until 14:05, this left me with some time to spare.

I think my pre race nerves were very prevalent as I had two triathlon related nightmares on Saturday night. I won't bore you with randomness of my psyche but one involved me being late and running over some watermelons in my car in my haste to get from London to Nottingham as the race had been moved at the last minute.

Anyway.

At a more reasonable hour I went for breakfast before repacking all my triathlon gear for the event.

My aide memoire of triathlon things
After everything had been packed and I had changed into my trisuit, me and my family walked over to the Excel.

London Excel (on Saturday - what a peaceful day) and boy what a backdrop
Needless to say it had now started to rain much to my dismay. I arrived at about half eleven. Plenty of time before the start.

I racked my bike at 12:40 after I had had some pasta as a pre race meal. Preparing my transition area took a lot less time than it did at Hatfield. Guess I must be getting used to this triathlon lark. I even had time to pop back and see my family and friends before the swim brief and my Dad took the chance to take the obligatory embarrassing photo.

God I look awful in swim hats
The pre swim brief took place at 13:50 and it was quite informative although I sense it was aimed at people who hadn't done any open water swimming beforehand as though swimming in a wetsuit is easy! There was someone stood next to me at the swim briefing who was wearing a windsurfing type wetsuit rather than a swimming wetsuit, I have no idea if he even managed to finish the swim. I also saw some people over the course of the weekend with wetsuits on back to front.

Proof that the seven P's is not just aimed at the workplace

Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

I was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of people who were in my wave. There were over 350 so it was split in two and unfortunately I was in the first half which was actually over half.

Cue walking outside into torrential rain. Oh great I'd forgotten about that.

We jumped into the water which was probably the coldest I have swum in since I started this journey. We then had to wait for about 5 minutes before we set off. This was good as it allowed my extremities time to get used to the temperature.

I tried to manoeuvre my way to the frontish of the swim pack as it is the discipline which I am best at. The trouble was I didn't get close enough to the front and as soon as the klaxon went off I was caught in a flurry of thrashing arms and legs. To describe it as a washing machine is an understatement, there is nothing that compares to it. The rain hammering down on your head and arms and legs violently moving within inches of your head. To be fair it was a touch scary.

I could not find a way through the people in front of me who held me up. I finally managed to overtake some people after about 400m. I really am too polite for competitive swimming and stopped if I hit anyone. I need to get over this for next year. Down the starting straight I managed to settle into my rhythm and was feeling really good (after the overtaking) until I reached the first turn point where the usual congestion occured. On the back straight, all was going well and I appeared to be on my own for about half the length until someone overtook me and then proceeded to slow down in my path. I think they were struggling. I couldn't overtake them immediately as I was starting to tire so I conserved some energy until I felt I had enough in the tank to overtake the person. I did this before the final turn.

I am sure the weather took a turn for the worse when we were in the water as the final 200m was horrific. The waves had got worse which means the wind must have picked up (oh wonderful the bike ride was going to be fun). I am so glad I breath to my left as luckily the waves hit me in the back of the head with each breath whereas some people who breath to the right would have got a faceful of water with every breath.

I exited the water a little unsteadily in a time of 00:32:31. I seriously think this could have been under 30 minutes without the holdups I suffered and with better weather.

Exiting the water. God it was cold on the feet.
London is very well organised as they have people with bags for you to put your wetsuit in. You enter T1 as soon as you exit the water and then run along some matting taking your wetsuit off. Then you climb some stairs into Excel before running round the transition area to enter you bike lane. My feet felt like blocks of ice and the matting felt like needles underfoot. While I was walking on the matting as my feet weren't functioning enough to jog, a cyclist coming in told me how cold it was outside.

I finally got to my bike and had to make a snap decision. I hadn't left my long sleeved cycling top out but given the advice I had just received decided to retrieve it from my transition bag. I then struggled with getting my top and socks on. After putting my bike shoes on I made my way to transition exit. The floor underfoot  was very slippery which when combined with road shoes and cleats created a tricky 100m. I even skated along some of the way as I got bored of taking baby steps. Anway I finally got on my bike and transition took a staggering 00:10:24.

The bike ride was a little on the bizarre front when combined with the rain of biblical proportions. Thank you to the random cyclist for the advice on the top. I'm sure this was a race saver.

The course was a lot hillier than I envisaged as it took in the Limehouse Link Tunnel.  The wind was horrific and the driving rain was soul destroying. I managed to overtake some people but equally got overtaken. My first lap seemed a lot quicker than my second.

At one point after exiting the Limehouse Link Tunnel (on the first lap) I nearly got blown off my bike as there was a horrendous crosswind. The driving rain meant that I was drenched throughout the entirety of my bike ride. And I mean drenched, I am sure every ounce of spare space in my shoes was filled with water. I am so glad I decided on the top and the glasses as my vision was unaffected.

Doesn't it look grim
The course was littered with biking detritus from the normal (gel wrappers) to the weird (a pedal clip) as well as several bike bottle and pumps. I was so glad of the glasses as you had to concentrate all the time. I passed lots of people who had suffered punctures and felt so bad for them but so relieved that it wasn't me.

The headwind at times was mental I felt like I was going backwards but I kept on pedalling. During the ride I managed to set a new PB for highest and lowest speeds when on the road.

Due to the weather you had to dismount on entering transition to negotiate a chicane but then you were allowed to remount your bike to complete the final climb. All a little bizzare but safety comes first. And I was glad to get back on my bike as it was preferable to running on a tarmac road in wet cold socks.

My time for the 35ish km bike ride was 01:25:02, I can live with that given the horrific conditions.

More lovely weather
Having learnt from my epoxy flooring skating bike exit. I ensured my shoes were off when I got off the bike so I had some purchase on the flooring. Transition was a disaster zone, what with my stuff strewn everywhere after searching for my top and other peoples disregard for your space. After clearing some space for my bike I proceeded to apply my achilles strap.

I had hoped to not need this but as my Rocktape came off at the start of the swim, I decided not to chance it. My Greeper Laces were once again immense and I had my shoes tied in seconds. And I mean securely tied not like you get with elastic lock laces. After putting my trainers and cap on I set off at a gentle jog.

And I mean a gentle jog as my legs didn't feel like mine.

Anyway the reason I cut my run short earlier in the week, according to the osteopath who fitted my kinesiology tape was that I have shin splints in my right leg.

So in summary I had got this far but had to run 10km to complete my quest with:-
  • Achilles tendinitis in my left ankle
  • Shin splints (tibial stress syndrome) on my right calf
  • Peroneal tendinitis in my right heel
and the minor challenge of
  • running in the worst weather I have ever run in with more people than I have ever run with
My T2 split was 00:04:46

The first 5km (2 laps) of my run were really painful and the run course had a kick in the balls at the end of every lap in the shape of a hill. My shins were killing. I very nearly dropped out but the support from the crowd kept me going. At points during these two laps, my eyes started to water (I still don't know if this was because fo the wind or the pain)

Seeing my swim coach at the end of lap one spurred me on. Seeing my family and friends at the end of lap two gave me a kick up the arse. Due to the weather the course had the added complication of a 6 inch deep puddle across the course which meant I (and everyone else) had to traverse this 10 foot wide puddle 8 times.

Some people minced their way through it on tip toes as if there feet wouldn't get wet but I thought balls to it and steamed through it and learnt that getting my feet drenched twice a lap was quite refreshing.
Almost look happy in this one
At about 2.5 laps I noticed someone walking, I decided I would try and help him get moving again as he looked to be struggling. I noticed his race number was a lot lower than mine and using my incredible powers of deduction worked out he had been going a lot longer than me.

It transpired he started at 12:00, a full 125 minutes before me. His name was Dean and he was on his last lap. With a bit of coaxing and encouragement I managed to get Dean running again. I controlled the pace for him and he didn't stop running once in that last half a lap. Before the finishing straight he stopped to shake my hand and thank me. Do you know something it is amazing being nice sometimes as you get thanked.


But do you know something I have to thank Dean as much as he thanked me as controlling the pace for him made that half a lap fly by. It also meant that my pace was very consistent unlike the rest of my race where I couldn't find my rhythm. On seeing my family at the end of this lap, (I very nearly started crying). So this was it me against 2.5km in my quest to complete the London Triathlon.

How far had I come on this journey from a smoker.

I was 1.5 miles away from my goal. And this pride and the support and cheers of my family and friends (as well as the CRUK and other support crews who braved the elements) kept me going. The rain teemed down on me for the first half of my last lap.
My first two foot off the floor photo.
This was endurance at its most raw. Me against me and only I could fail, I knew I wouldn't when I had come this far. I trudged through the last 2.5km at some points singing "Singing in the Rain" (well it seemed fitting) and with each passing step I knew I was a step closer to my goal. A goal which at the start of this quest seemed like a pipe dream. A goal which I have sweated for, injured myself even bled for.

I mounted that ramp into the Excel for the final time and promised myself I would not walk again until I had crossed that bloody finish line. I crossed the line with a final cheer of support from my family and felt such an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that I had completed my quest. My run time was 01:20:16 and my friends were amazed at how consistent my lap times were. 20 minutes per lap almost to the second. My total time for the triathlon was 03:32:57. I missed my target time by 2 minutes and 57 seconds but given the torrential rain I think I did very well.
On the finishing ramp. Looking a bit tired.
Proof that I completed the London Triathlon
My wife came to greet me and her hugging me was like a pneumatic drill cracking a dam. The floodgates opened and I started to sob, I left everything I had out on that 47 (ish) km and my unintelligible sobs were proof of that. Fast forward three minutes and I could reflect on what I have achieved.
Me with my medal after completing my triathlon
I gave up smoking and set myself a goal which I knew would be a huge challenge given I had done no formative exercise since 2007. The goal was to complete an Olympic distance triathlon. The only person I was competing against was me. And do you know something I bloody smashed it. I beat my goal, I was my personal best. I set a new PB for an Olympic distance triathlon and I can't wait to do it again.


I have unfinished business with this course due to the horrific monsoon like weather conditions and I'll be back.
My medal. I worked so hard for this and am so proud of my achievement
On Saturday the Virgin Active team ran a competition on Facebook to win a hoodie. It was a caption competition about a photo. I entered and won and should have a new hoodie from the event winging its way to me. The only problem is I had already purchased one. So I chose a different colour.

My winning caption
I wouldn't change any element of the last 9 or so months. I am now a non smoker and a triathlete and I know I have surprised my friends and family. My Sister and Dad are proud of me and I have raised some much needed money for charity.

I am my wifes hero. I can't ask for anything else.

My finishing certificate
I hope you have enjoyed reading my musings. This is not the end of my journey but I will be taking a couple of weeks off to relax before I start training for my journey towards Outlaw.

Remember it's not too late to sponsor me. You can do this by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/smoker2triathlete

If my blog has inspired you to give up smoking then please sponsor me the price of a packet of cigarettes. It's not as if you're going to miss the £8.00.

If you have found my blog humorous, emotional, inspiring, enjoyable or are just a regular reader, please sponsor me. It's all for a good cause.

Thanks for reading and see you soon,

Michael (An Olympic distance triathlete)


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Another week of achievements (Oh and T- one week)

Well this week has been another of achievements which is a good thing with a week to go until the London Triathlon. It proves I'm still improving.

This getting fitter lark is actually really good fun.

My achievments this week have been in all three disciplines

Run

On Tuesday after work I decided to go for my usual 5k run around Regents Park. I decided to take notice of the advice of Karen from last week and run at an RPE level of 6 from the scale below.

RPE 6 Easy, conversational pace, slower than marathon pace. Working on base endurance
RPE 7 Steady pace, typically marathon or half marathon pace, able to talk but not hold a full conversation
RPE 8 Controlled discomfort, can talk a little but not full sentences. Typically your 10km race pace, or marginally slower (Often referred to as tempo or threshold, helps improve lactate threshold)
RPE 9 Hard, unable to talk other than getting a couple of words out. Typically a 5km race pace.
RPE 9.5 Very hard, definitely no talking at all, only for intervals shorter than 800m or a few minutes.

I did this to help build my base endurance. I set off at a pace that felt comfortable and completed my 5km run (note I intentionally put run instead of rulk) around Regents Park and paid no heed to lamp posts and fellt really realxed and good.

For the first time in my adult life I completed a 5km run. I was overcome with joy and don't mind admitting I nearly cried with the elation I felt. There was such an overpowering feeling of joy. I really must have found my running mojo.

I could have done with finding this form about a month ago so that I could gradually build up to the 10km I have to run in London. Instead I am aiming to run 7km this week and then 10km in London.

My pace wasn't great but I really don't care, I ran 5km. Me the overweight, ex smoker, sedentary human completed 5km. And next Sunday I'll give it my all to ensure I run the 10km as this was my primary aim at the start of this journey.

I was going to run on Wednesday but my calves were feeling tight so I had a nights rest.

Swim

On Thursday I went to the RG Active swim at Hampton Pool. I swam in my normal group but tried to remember everything I learnt from the week before. An hour later and we had all swum 70 lengths of the 36m long pool, which equates to 2.52km which was another achievement.

But best of all because I didn't cane myself and swam steadily (but still in the times that were set) I felt like I could have carried on swimming. This bodes well for my next challenge. More on that later.

Bike

On Saturday I got up and decided to finally test our my new 40km loop in Northern Doncaster.

I felt really relaxed and proceeded to enjoy the ride. The sun was shining and I had a really good time. I enjoyed my new loop. It wasn't quite 40km so I had to find some extra distance around the estate.

I completed my 40.1km in a time of 01:34:15, which was a 9.5% increase in average speed over my previous best effort out on the road at this distance. This amazed me and it proves my fitness is increasing.

So all in all a good week was had training wise and I still can't wait until London next Sunday.

My next challenge

I have hinted about my next challenge in the past but now it is official. I will be completing the Outlaw Triathlon in Nottingham on Sunday July 7th 2013. I've already entered so barring injury there is no backing out.

The Outlaw is an iron distance triathlon to be completed within 17 hours.

For those that don't know an iron distance triathlon is

  • 2.4 mile (3.8km) swim to be completed within 2 hours and twenty minutes
  • 112 mile (180km) bike ride to completed by 10 hours and thirty minutes
  • 26.2 mile (42.2km) run to be completed within 17 hours.
This is a massive step up in distance and will be a real challenge but I have 42 weeks of training before race day and as usual my aim is to complete rather than compete.

I will be completing the Outlaw for HHHO so my charitable fundraising will not stop after I have completed the London Triathlon. I will also change my Twitter name after London.

I have also designed (with the help of Quest Sportswear) a custom trisuit for the event. I should have some custom calfguards for the event thanks to Compressport UK. So as you can see I have been busy planning as well as training.

A draft of my custom trisuit design



But back to the task at hand. In 7 days I will be completing the olympic distance London Triathlon in aid of Cancer Research. If you are attending the event, please make an effort to cheer me on as I'm sure this will help spur me on towards the finish line.

I am competitor 8763


I have also fitted my bike with some new wheels for the event as well as given it a thorough clean iin advance of the great travel down South.

My bike complete with new wheels in all its sparkly clean glory
My patriotic bike. Go red, white and blue
That's all for me. My next blog post will detail my efforts in London. I will try and remember every detail to share with you all.

Remember I am doing this all for charity so please could you all dig deep and sponsor me. You money could help find the cure for cancer.

If you have been inspired by my efforts or enjoyed reading my blog, please sponsor me via my Justgiving page (www.justgiving.com/smoker2triathlete) or by texting NSMK50 £2 to 70070. Afterall that is less than the cost of a pint.

Thanks for reading,

Michael


Monday, 10 September 2012

Where has the time gone?

I'm sitting here in my hotel room and wondering where the time has gone. It still doesn't seem like more than two blinks ago that I decided I was going to give up smoking and the following brainwave of completing a triathlon for charity.

Here I am with 13 days to go until the culmination of my quest to complete an Olympic distance triathlon in aid of Cancer Research UK.

I've spent a long time training for this and this is only a stepping stone in my bigger quest but more on that in the near future.

To date the time I have spent training consists of

Swim - 13.13 miles in 11 hours and 5 minutes burning 11220 kcal, the equivalent of 845 lengths of a 25m pool.

Bike - 330 miles in 19 hours and 49 minutes burning 22094 kcal, the equivalent of a tad more than a return journey from Doncaster to London.

Run - 108 miles in 22 hours and 46 minutes burning 18288kcal, the equivalent of just over four marathons.

Thats a total of 451 miles in 53 hours and 35 minutes or 2.23 days training at an average speed of 8.42mph.

This is staggering when you consider the last time I did any formative exercise was the London to Brighton bike ride in 2008 and considering all the injuries that I have had.

I'll freely admit to being a little nervous in the run up to the triathlon but this is surely only normal given there are 575 other people in my wave at the start. Thats 575 to swim with which is a lot of people. To date the most I have swum with is probably the 30 that were at the Hatfield triathlon in July. A bit of a difference. I hope there are mini waves within the wave.

Recap over with.

What have I been up to?

Erm probably not as much as I should have been doing if I'm being honest but I have still been logging the miles.

On Tuesday I had to go home for something and got back at 20:45 and thought balls to it and decided to go for a run. I left home at 9pm and it was pitch black. Well as pitch black as you can get living in a city. I rulked around my neighbourhood and completed the 6.18km in 44 minutes. I felt really good during the run which is amazing considering I had a commuters tea of McDonalds. Needs must and all that.

My thoughts on running in the dark are that it is very peaceful, eerie but peaceful. I'll have to get used to it as the nights are drawing in and I have lots of training to do over the winter months in preparation for my second season as a triathlete.

On Thursday I had a double session booked. My weekly swim and a running session with Karen Weir.

Being taught to run

I'd decided to book an hour with Karen (who is one of the RG Active coaches) as I have been struggling to meet with my PT up North as I've been exceptionally busy.

The hour with Karen was enlightening and I feel that I learnt a lot.

I won't bore you with specifics but in a nutshell.

  • There is nothing wrong with my forefoot striking run, Karen even commented how nice it looked.
  • How much you lean controls your speed.
  • Arms act like the pistons in an engine and the faster they move the faster your legs move.
  • I have to keep my upper body stiff and move my arms instead of twisting my body.
  • NEVER EVER contemplate switching to heel striking (as I forefoot strike) as it is less efficient and my body runs the way it is meant to.
  • Ditch my stability trainers after London and invest in a pair of neutral trainers but not some by Newton as I already forefoot strike.
The hour flew by and before I knew it it was time to head to the pool for a swim.

I felt like Austin Powers after the hour was up as I think I have finally found my running mojo. I have a new training plan which should make things more interesting over the coming weeks and months.

Now I just need to find my transition mojo. London is calling for me to put that demon to bed.

In total I ran just over 4km in the hour.

Swimming and learning something new


I thought I knew how to swim, well I do and I happen to think it is my strongest discipline but given my swimming upbringing this is hardly rocket science.

However I learnt something that blew my mind on Thursday thanks to another of the RG Active coaches.

Slower = Faster

What the heck, this does not make sense.

Stick with me. I decided to swim in the easier of the two sessions, that are run on a Thursday given I had just finished my hour long run and it was a decision that paid dividends.

I was happily swimming the laps prescribed by the coach and completing them well within the times set.

2 lengths (72m) in 1 minute and 13 when the allotted time was 2 minutes 20 and a similar pace for 4 lengths and was feeling pleased with myself when the coach asked me to swim 4 lengths relaxed.

I did as asked and completed the 144m in 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

He then asked me to swim like I normally would. 144m completed in 2 minutes and 35 seconds.

The coach then asked me how I felt about the two differing techniques.

In a word I was bollocksed after the second four lengths when I gave it my all and all for a measly 15 seconds (or 10 seconds / 100m). Hardly worth it in my eyes when I felt so good after the first 4. Slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to swimming. I'll be saving this for the triathlons in the future so that I can perform well on the bike and run. Conservation of energy and all that.

The session was topped off with relay races and I got really bad cramp. I don't think running then swimming agrees with me.

So all in all a productive Thursday and definitely a lot learnt. Proof that every day is indeed a school day.

After driving home on Friday and breaking my self imposed alcohol ban with a few cheekies in the pub. Well England were playing after all. I decided to go for a run and test out my new technique on a continuous run on Saturday.

Cue my first sub 35 minute time for 5km in a few weeks. I felt nice and relaxed during the run and tried to remember everything Karen had taught me. I still need to work on my distance endurance but even this was better. Gone are the days of 4/2 lampposts. Now I walk when I feel like it. The 4/2 worked for me but now it's time to listen to my body.

Plan for this week is to do the exercises prescribed by Karen daily and mix the running up with some shorter and faster sessions.I should've run tonight but had to work late. Never mind there is always tomorrow.

I can't wait until Thursday to use my new swim paddles and try out my new goggles and I can't wait until Saturday to put in a solid 40 km + ride on the bike.

Then just some simple runs next week and a swim or two before D-Day.

BRING IT ON

Remember you can still sponsor me via my Justgiving page or by texting NSMK50 £X to 70070.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

PS sorry for the long blog but I had a lot to share.



Sunday, 2 September 2012

I got 21 days to go

Well I promised you all something special for this blog post and unfortunately I have failed to deliver.

I was planning on rewriting 21 seconds by So Solid Crew to 21 Days and making it triathlon specific.

Unfortunately the lyrics are far too complex for me to be able to rewrite. I did have a go at the chorus (see below) but it made no sense so I abandoned the project.


"I got 21 days to goI got 21 days to goCause if you support me let me knowIt’ll be a good showI got 21 days before I do the showDid you see me on the swim, oh noDid you see me on the bike, oh noSo if you support me let me knowCos my run is so slowI got 21 days before I do the show Did you see me on the swim, oh noDid you see me on the bike, oh noSo if you support me let me knowCos my run is so slowI got 21 days before I do the show21 days, t - t - t21 days, t - t - t21 days, t - t - t21 days, t - t - t"


A minor set back but what will be will be.

Onwards and upwards.

After this slight set back I decided to recommence operation design a trisuit for my endeavours next year. As you may or may not be aware I have decided to raise money for HHHO next year as it is a charity which has raised money for CRUK but has now decided to go it alone.

After much deliberation and discussions with the HHHO chairperson (his mum), we decided on the design below as a starting point.

My first trisuit design
This design was then sent to Quest Sportswear to

  1. see if it was possible to produce
  2. get a rough quote
  3. get any commentary back
What I received in return was beyond mine and Harry's mums wildest dreams.

They pimped my design and made it so much better and even offered 3 new designs. I was amazed by this level of customer service. 

The middle design got the #Harrysealofapproval
After a little deliberation Harry's mum has approved the middle design for further development and this is my favourite as well, which is a bonus.

Operation Outlaw is back on as well as due to my dealings with HHHO I feel reinvigorated so I am aiming to compete at the Outlaw Triathlon on Sunday 7th July. No who am I kidding I will compLete the Outlaw Triathlon on Sunday 7th July 2013.

I need to knuckle on with my training over the winter now as I have a new challenge to look forward to.

On the subject of training. What have I been up to this week?

Erm not a lot! It's been another hectic week. 

Monday- brick session as covered in last blog
Tuesday - drove down to London and was far too tired to train
Wednesday - Needed to go swimming but went for a run instead
Thursday - Erm got drunk at a colleagues birthday celebrations
Friday - Drove home and got in at 9pm
Saturday - Erm got drunk at my wife's birthday alcoholic tea party
Sunday - Went driving to plan a 40km looped route from home and with 4km to go, the council were resurfacing the road so instead I decided on a 40km turbo session.

The run I did on Wednesday was difficult for some reason, I really wasn't feeling motivated after a long day at work. But I did it. I completed 5.9km in 45 minutes, which is not a blistering pace (even by my standards) but I completed it, which is the main thing. My legs were still achey from my attempt at high cadence running from Monday so maybe this had something to do with my slow pace. I decided to mix up my route and not follow the lamppost technique and saw a lot more of Regents Park.

This was my last workout of August and unfortunately this meant I failed to complete my #12xIronman challenge for a second month. I didn't even complete one discipline, which I am disappointed with.

Note to self, make sure your GPS watch is charged before you attempt a run so that it logs on the Garmin website otherwise you can't import it and have to rely on Endomondo to be able to log your run.

I am hoping for a new outlook on running after this Thursday as I have booked a training session with Karen Weir who is a running coach who has worked with the likes of Jenni Falconer. Hopefully she can reinforce some of the things my PT at home taught me. The training session is before my swim at Hampton Pool with RG Active. I'm a little apprehensive about doing this reverse brick but needs must.

On Sunday after I had got over my hangover and disappointment of not being able to complete my new 40km looped route due to a lot of resurfacing, I decided to get on the Turbo trainer. As it was a lovely day I decided to take my turbo outside and because I find the turbo boring I decided to take my ipad and watch some "An Idiot Abroad" to break up the monotony of pedalling but going nowhere. I then combined all three and realised my new tribars make a handy iPad holder. Instant bliss. 

May have to take this to Dragons Den. #Ingenious
I could watch videos while pedalling and going nowhere but whilst getting a tan and I had the wind to cool me down as well. This resulted in me setting a new PB on the turbo for 40km. I completed the 40km in a Brownlee like time of 00:55:04. In comparison my first ever 40km on the turbo took me 01:19:36. This equates to a improvement of 31% in just over 4 months. Now that is impressive.

I also got my joining pack for London this week so there is officially no backing out now.

Competitor 8763. Bring it on.
Remember you can still sponsor me via Justgiving or by texting NSMK50 £X to 70070. 

Thanks for reading,

Michael